Bulletin, June 7

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering.   It will print on two sheets of paper, front and back. NOTE: We use slides during worship  that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin, Sunday, June 7

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin, May 31

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering.  It is long this week, to accommodate our Acts lesson! It will print on three sheets of paper, front and back.

NOTE: We use slides during worship  that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin, Sunday, May 31

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin, May 24

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering. NOTE: There are TWO versions. The first contains the full text of the reading and is in relatively large print. It fits on four pages. The second is in smaller type, and does not include full text of prayers, etc.  It fits on the front and back of one sheet of paper.

Bulletin, Sunday, May 24 – Full Version

Bulletin, Sunday, May 24 – Short Version

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda: .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Homily, May 17

We begin by watching a short film about the life of St. Dunstan. 

Wonder together some: 

What was your favorite part?…

What was the most important part? … 

Let’s look at an image of Dunstan together. 

It’s interesting to study Dunstan. He is a figure of holy folklore, a man who is said to have miraculously levitated a falling beam. But he is, too,  an actual figure of historical significance – the great libraries of Britain hold manuscripts that bear Dunstan’s actual handwriting. Here is a page from a manuscript known as the Glastonbury Classbook, currently in the collection of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The big central figure is Jesus Christ, depicted as a king. But what you should notice is this little monk in his habit, down here in the corner, kneeling at Christ’s feet. This might be an actual self-portrait of, by, Dunstan. He’s known to have written manuscripts of this period, he began his career at Glastonbury, and he was an artist and craftsman. This is the image of Dunstan we keep in our icon corner at church – not an icon that makes Dunstan central, but this image that perhaps shows him the way he pictured himself: kneeling at the feet of Christ. 

(What it says:  Dunstanum memet clemens rogo, Christe, tuere / Tenarias me non sinas sorbsisse procellas  – ‘I ask, merciful Christ, that you protect me, Dunstan; do not permit the Taenarian storms to swallow me’).

There’s a lot to say about Dunstan, who lived an interesting life in interesting times. But today I want to focus on Dunstan the reformer.  Dunstan’s faith led him to a life of civic engagement that left Britain better than he found it. 

The Britain into which Dunstan was born was fractured, chaotic, and dangerous. It was only thirty years before his birth that Alfred the Great had begun to unify many small kingdoms into something resembling a nation – and that work was ongoing during Dunstan’s lifetime. 

Besides political divisions and frequent wars and skirmishes, for most people life was brutish and short. In Dunstan’s time the common people were uneducated, poor, harassed by bandits, cheated by merchants, and oppressed by the landed aristocracy. Rule of law and civil society were almost nonexistent.

Dunstan committed his long life to supporting the project of a unified, orderly Britain, with education more widely available; common systems for money and commerce; and a fair and equally-applied judicial system. 

He is rightly remembered as a founder of monasteries & proponent of Benedictine monasticism; but for Dunstan, monasteries were a tool for reform. Dunstan and the other great bishops of his time believed deeply that the flourishing of the English people would be best served by the cultivation of monastic centers, whose prayers, teaching, and care for the common folk would be a stabilizing and improving force.

Dunstan was a consummate pragmatist. His lifetime and work spanned the reigns of eight kings. He was exiled by some, elevated to higher and higher positions of honor and influence by others. He pursued his vision with the help of friendly kings, and against the opposition of unfriendly ones. Dunstan’s life reminds us that while human political agendas and God’s agenda can overlap, those overlaps are always temporary and partial. If we can keep that in mind, then maybe our civic and political engagement can be as clear-sighted and stubborn as Dunstan’s was. 

And over the course of Dunstan’s long, determined, faithful life, England did become a little more ordered, a little more just, a little safer. Something worked – and Dunstan’s role in those changes was honored, as he became celebrated as a saint within decades of his death. 

I think Dunstan the reformer stands out for me right now because I think we may be tempted to think that reform, the work of making things better for more, the work – as we see it as Christians – of making the community and world around us better reflect God’s intentions of justice, mercy, peace, and wholeness, needs to start from a place of stability. It’s something people – usually people in authority – sometimes say: Now isn’t the time. Things need to be more  settled before we can work for improvement. 

But Dunstan and those who worked alongside him, did what they did in chaotic, violent, unsettled times.  As the great rabbi Hillel once said: If not now, when? 

In a few months, or weeks, we will be under immense pressure to get Back To Normal. It’s already starting, to some extent.  I hope that we will demand a better Normal than the one we had before. I hope that we will have the insight and courage to be choosy about what we want back in our lives, individually and especially collectively. 

What would we like to see better, on the other side of all this?

What will we to work and fight and vote and pray and give to build into the new Normal? 

I’d like our new Normal to value our health care workers, from janitors to surgeons, more.

And to better respect and better compensate the work of teachers and child care workers more.

I’d like our new Normal to recognize that minimum-wage hourly work is essential work, and makes those jobs more sustainable and livable. 

A society that listens when scientists tell us about the risks of how we’re living now, and responds by changing our behavior. What if we did that with climate change?….

I’d like our new Normal to extend our realization that we are connected. And that we need one another. 

What would you like to see become part of the emergent Normal, friends?… 

Bulletin, May 17

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering. NOTE: There are TWO versions. The first contains the full text of the reading and is in relatively large print. It fits on three pages. The second is in smaller type, and does not include full text of prayers, etc.  It fits on the front and back of one sheet of paper.

Bulletin, Sunday, May 17 (Full)

Bulletin, Sunday, May 17 (Smaller print)

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda: .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin, May 10

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering.NOTE: There are TWO versions. The first contains the full text of the reading and is in relatively large print. It fits on four pages. The second is in smaller type, and does not include full text of prayers, etc.  It fits on the front and back of one sheet of paper.
Bulletin, Sunday, May 10 (Full version)

Bulletin, Sunday, May 10 (Short version)

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda: .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Sermon, May 3

Acts 2:37-38, 42-47: Now when they heard Peter’s preaching, the crowd were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread in one house after another and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

I’m going to start with a question. How does it feel to stub your toe? … Pain; suddenness; surprise; shock…  

So I’m preaching today on this passage from early in the book of Acts. Remember, Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke – written in the same voice, carrying forward many of the same themes. This passage comes shortly after the Pentecost story, which we’ll share at the end of May. It’s describing the common life of the first Christians in Jerusalem: A growing community of believers, united in practices of study, prayer, sharing their possessions, and breaking bread together. 

We are several steps away from what we would recognize as the Eucharist, but this breaking of bread is very clearly a holy meal that evokes Jesus’ presence. We know that because if we think of Luke and Acts as one book, then the Emmaus story we JUST had last week, when Jesus is made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread, was about a chapter and a half ago. 

So: Breaking bread together is a central practice for this new faith community – and I really love how it’s described here. They would meet at a different person’s home each week; and they would break bread and eat together with glad and generous hearts. 

Now, the NRSV, our usual Bible translation, is doing something it often does: it’s choosing to be clear rather than literal. David Bentley Hart, who tries to stay close to the Greek syntax, renders that phrase as “gladness and simplicity of heart.” One of our prayers after communion follows the King James translation: “Gladness and singleness of heart.”

When you see a word variously translated as generous, simple or single, you start to wonder about that word. So I looked it up. It’s a great word. It’s only used once in the Bible; this is it. And what it literally means is, Not stubbable. Nothing to stub on. Nothing to cause that moment of shock and pain and interruption. 

“Gladness and unstubbability of heart.”  This early Christian community, sharing food and homes and possessions gladly, growing in numbers and faith, had nothing to stub their hearts on.

I don’t know about you but that really sticks with me because I feel like there is so much to stub our hearts on, right now. We’re going about our business and suddenly something brings us up short, with a sudden jolt of pain. Ouch. A loss; a need; an impossibility; a memory of Before. 

I keep asking myself, dear ones, whether to continue preaching to this season – or whether I should try to preach as if we weren’t in these circumstances.  I can imagine that some people might want a break. Eight to ten minutes of not thinking about it. But I can’t figure out how to do that. At least, I haven’t yet. So, here we are. Remembering Before, wondering about After. 

Which actually situates us well to think about this Acts text. This is a text of nostalgia. Of looking back on the good old days. And it always has been, from the moment it was written down, perhaps forty to fifty years after the events it describes. 

This text said to its first readers exactly what it says to us: Back at the beginning, we really had things right.  People were joining the church like crazy; we couldn’t baptize them fast enough; and MAN, you should have seen our potlucks. Everybody came to church every week, and showed up for Bible study too; and everybody was kind and faithful and generous and happy. 

(If nothing else, this text tells us that churches have been looking back on their own good old days for as long as there have been churches!)  

And then… stuff happened. Things got messy. Church got complicated. Christian communities became fractured by many things: persecution without, divisions within – and even by success, which led to growth, which led to institutionalization and the loss of the intimacy and spontaneity of the early years. 

This is a text that looks back fondly on a remembered past. And that means that it is undoubtedly smoothing things over – making the past simple and pure and good, as we often do. Forgetting the hard moments and rough edges and awkward growing pains; keeping skeletons safely locked in closets; romanticizing our memories in ways that sometimes run the risk of making the past the enemy of the present and the future. 

But while we have to read texts like this with several grains of salt, they can also tell us something. They tell us what we, and those who went before us, have chosen to remember; have held onto, through time and change. The stories we tell, the memories we treasure and carry with us and pass on to the next generation, are themselves formative.

And when we’re carrying those memories into and through real change – as the early church did – they tell us what was important enough to try to continue or restore or re-imagine. 

The truth is that we’re always living in an After. We’re always deciding – as individuals, as households, as communities or institutions – what matters enough to carry it forward and pass it on. We’re just more likely to notice this process, in times of swift and unwelcome change. 

So, what are we carrying forward? 

One thing is what we’re doing right now: trying to hear how a Scriptural text speaks to us, and then carry that beyond this set-apart time into the rest of our lives.  (I realize with all due humility that my rambling may or may not be part of that process for you in any given week!) 

How we show up at church, and what we do the rest of the week, has changed a lot for many of us.  But we still need to gather to be reminded who and whose we are,  to find our place in a story that is both ancient and ever new, and to find direction and meaning for our daily living.

One of the things we do in our Compline gatherings, borrowed from the youth group who borrowed it from somewhere, is to read a passage of Scripture and ask ourselves and one another if there is something God is asking me to be or do or change.

Now, the Holy Spirit can speak to our hearts through Scripture in many ways; but one answer this Acts passage fairly SHOUTS is, Share. In these few eloquent verses, this writer holds up generosity as a fundamental way of being for the early Christian community. 

Some scholars think this might be why Christianity grew – this weird little sect that said that God was a human being and sometimes they eat him – pretty weird! But on the other hand, they really look after each other. And if you come to them, they’ll look after you, too.  

Generosity, sharing, is a practice – in the sense of a thing we do, and in the sense of a thing we get better at the more we do it. It’s one of many faith practices, which help form us into the people we intend to be – the people we believe God has called us to be.  In our current circumstances, attention to our faith practices can help us feel connected to deeper values and a bigger picture. They can remind us that despite how it may feel, we still have agency – we still have scope and capacity to choose and to act. 

So this week, in response to this text, in solidarity with our long-ago faith ancestors, in bold affirmation that even scattered, isolated, and afraid, we are still God’s people: I am inviting you to try out one intentional act of sharing, of generosity. Yes, I’m giving you homework, but it shouldn’t be a burden. 

It doesn’t have to be big; I encourage you to think small! It could be letting your little brother use some of your crayons, or giving your partner a bite of your chocolate, or taking time to check in on someone and hear how they’re doing, or picking up some trash in your neighborhood park, or finding someone who would really appreciate those puzzles that are gathering dust in your basement, or chipping in $10 or $5 or $2 to an agency or fund that’s helping those in need. 

What I’m suggesting is some small act of generosity that is a step beyond what you might otherwise do; and that you do with intention, as a follower of Jesus and an offering to God. 

What I want for us to feel and know, dear ones, is that even in these strangely small days, we remain a people chosen and called; a people blessed to be a blessing to others; and a people loved, upheld, and empowered by grace. 

Does anyone have something in mind already as a small act of sharing you might do this week?…

Bulletin, Sunday, May 3

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s online gatherings for the people of St. Dunstan’s. It is the same for the 9am gathering and the 6:30pm gathering.

NOTE: There are TWO versions. The first contains the full text of the reading and is in relatively large print. It fits on four pages. The second is in smaller type, and does not include the reading text. It fits on the front and back of one sideways, folded sheet of paper.

May 3 Bulletin – Complete, 4 pages

May 3 Bulletin – Small Type for printing on single sheet

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda: .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!
  2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).
  3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Sermon, April 26

This morning, I’m taking the opportunity of our online worship to do something that’s harder to do in church – look at some art together. I mentioned last week in the evening gathering that there are wonderful paintings of some of these Easter Gospel stories by the artist Caravaggio, who lived in Italy from 1571 to 1610. Caravaggio’s work represents some rich and wonderful visual exegesis – reflecting on a Scriptural story and drawing meaning out of it by rendering it artistically. 

Here is his painting of our Gospel story from last week – The Incredulity of St. Thomas.

Remember, when the other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, risen from the dead, while he was not with them, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” In Caravaggio’s image, Jesus is guiding Thomas’s finger into the wound in his side. As much as to say, “If this is what you need, Thomas… let it be so.”

How would you describe the look on Jesus’ face? Unmute & share what you’re seeing, if you’d like – just a word or two. You can do it in Chat, too. How would you describe the feelings on Thomas’s face?….

When you’re looking at a Caravaggio painting, always notice the hands. He paints very expressive hands. Notice Thomas’s left hand. Does that add to how you read his feelings, in this moment? 

All right. Let’s move to this Sunday’s Gospel – another beautiful story of followers of Jesus meeting the risen Christ. Two of the disciples, Jesus’ friends and followers, are leaving Jerusalem – burdened with sadness and disappointment. They had hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel – to free their nation and people from the degradation of Roman rule, to a new era of freedom and holy strength, like the remembered time of King David. 

But that’s not what happened. Jesus didn’t call the people to him and start a righteous revolution. Instead, the imperial powers and the local powers, Pilate, Herod, and the chief priests, worked it out among themselves to dispose of him. It wasn’t even especially difficult. And now, the great moment of hope and possibility has passed. They’ve heard about the empty tomb and the rumors that maybe Jesus is alive; but still, it feels like everything is over. They might as well go home, and return to the normal lives they abandoned when they joined the Jesus movement. 

We know both their names, by the way, though Luke only names Cleopas. John, in his Gospel, names the women who were standing near the cross – one of them is Mary, the wife of Clopas. 

Clopas and Cleopas are very likely the same name. And it makes all the sense in the world that this was a married couple traveling together, since we know there were women among Jesus’ disciples, and since the story ends at a home they share. 

So, Mary and Cleopas are headed home, sad and weary.  But then a stranger approaches and falls into step with them. He asks them, What are you talking about? And when they tell him, he says, Wait, have you even READ the Scriptures? It was necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things! And as they walk on, the stranger re-interprets Scripture to them, texts of liberation like Exodus and texts of judgment and promise like the Prophets, to show them that passing through death to new life is a story God tells in the world, over and over and over again. 

And then they reach Emmaus. And Mary – I’m sure it was Mary – says, Oh, please stop here with us. It’s getting dark. We don’t have much in the cupboard, but I’ll borrow from a neighbor. Stay. And the stranger agrees to stay. And over their simple shared meal, he takes bread, and blesses it, and breaks it, and gives it to them. And the words and the voice, the way he lifts his hands, the way he meets their eyes when he holds out the bread – suddenly, they see. They recognize. They know. 

Here is Caravaggio’s image of the supper at Emmaus.

You’ll notice that Caravaggio thought both of the disciples on the road to Emmaus were men. What else do you notice?…

A couple of notes: The servant is a self-portrait of Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s Jesus here doesn’t look like a conventional Jesus – he is young and androgynous or even feminine. This is how Caravaggio has interpreted the fact that the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus – he must have looked different in some way. Compare the Jesus in Caravaggio’s painting “The Taking of Christ,” who looks a lot more like “normal” depictions of Jesus.

Then Jesus – disappears. (While he does have a real human body, the Risen Jesus seems to be able to pop in and out of our reality in a new way!) And Cleopas and Mary stare at each other, with understanding and hope dawning on their faces. And they RUSH back to Jerusalem – seven miles by night! – to tell the other disciples what has happened. How Jesus walked with them and talked with them, and was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 

That phrase may sound familiar! It’s used in one of our Eucharistic prayers, Prayer C. The congregation says it: Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. It’s also in a beautiful prayer we use in the evenings sometimes, a prayer based on this story: Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread.

Sharing the Eucharist, breaking bread that is the Body of Christ and sharing it among the fellowship of believers that is also the Body of Christ, is central to our church’s practice. We are fasting from it now, for a season, for the sake of human wellbeing – for one another and for our wider community. I know that fast is really hard for some folks. I’m sorry. We will return to the Eucharistic table, when we have discerned that it’s safe enough, and how to do so with minimal risk. 

The breaking of the bread is a really important moment when we can see and feel and touch the Divine. But it’s far from the only such moment. I love what Mary and Cleopas say to one another: Were not our hearts burning within us, while he was speaking to us on the road? Hours before they recognized their mysterious traveling companion as Jesus Christ, God incarnate, hours before this eucharistic meal, they had the sense that they were hearing something powerful and important and true. I think that’s why they begged the stranger to stay with them. Not just kindness or politeness, but also a sense of connection, possibility, urgency. 

Were not our hearts burning within us? I know what that feels like. That sense of hearing important truth, truth that will change how I think and how I live. Or hearing something that has a call on me. I know the feeling of a deep-down nudge that says, Pay attention. There’s something here. Something that kindles your heart and awakens hope. You’re close to one of the cracks in everything, where the light gets in. I am more or less attuned to those nudges, that strange inner warmth, depending on how well I’ve been sleeping, how hard I’ve been working, how open and present I’m able to be. But I do know that feeling. 

We love gathering at our church building – but we know God doesn’t live there. We love sharing the Body of Christ in Eucharist – but we know that’s not the only place to meet Jesus. We may be all shut up in our homes, but the risen Jesus walks right through locked doors, friends. 

Where is the Holy showing up for you, in these days? Where might the Holy show up for you, if you look, and listen? If you open your heart to expect that even here, even now, God has a word to speak to you, or a gift to offer you, or a mission of love to invite you into? Listen to your heart, friends… notice when it burns within you. 

Response question: Where have you seen or sensed God’s presence, gotten a glimpse or whiff of the Holy, in these days? … 

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